Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Perfect Day--Even to Wait Outside

That's The Festhalle in between these two Ocean Grove visitors...

When the theme of your blog is "Good Pubs, Good Beer, Good People," a visit to Asbury Park's newest Beer Emporium is apropos. This past Saturday was the day to do it--perfect weather for a motorcycle ride and early enough in the season to avoid shore traffic and crowds.

And after being fully sated with all of the above inside, I wandered outside the Asbury Park Festhalle & Biergarten, hereinafter known as The Festhalle, to enjoy this absolutely perfect afternoon with an Alvarez cigar.

Owned by some of the same guys (Andy and Ladi) who launched Hoboken's wildly successful Pilsener Haus, The Festhalle gives off a similar vibe, right down to being unable to find a parking spot--not because it's parking challenged like Hoboken, but because finding an empty spot requires "Natalie Luck." While she found one--right in front of the place, no less--my biker buddies and I crossed over into quaint, charming Ocean Grove, where there were plenty of spots. Only a one-minute walk across a small footbridge brought us to the Festhalle. It's a strategy worth remembering if you go.

On Saturdays, the place opens at noon (4 PM during the week) and, at 1 PM, we anticipated no problem finding a place to sit.


The place was packed, all tables were full and there were people standing around barrels with their food and grog resting on them. So after ordering from bar maid Allison, a stunner who used to work at Hailey's (and, bless her heart, who recognized me), we sidled over to a table where this delightful family looked like it was ready to pack up. When they did, we swooped in, and just in time, too, as four senior citizens on walkers, there for the 5 PM early bird specials, were targeting those seats. But they weren't fast enough, and like George Costanza evacuating during that episode with the fire, we got there first! 

Just kidding. They were millennials.

When this lovely family left, we pounced...
The upstairs room had not yet opened, and nor had the outside Biergarten area. With all rooms open, the capacity is 760.

The Festhalle has an impressive list of beers on tap that rotate, and an extensive list of others in bottles. Likewise, the Festhalle's food menu fits the ambience of the place perfectly. Natalie ordered us a pretzel the size of a steering wheel ($11), and, with the accompanying mustard, it was absolutely delicious.

I won't run down the list of what's available as you can get that from their site, but our server Tasha (from New Zealand) was a total delight. The bottom line here is that if you're a fan of Biergarten- type dining and drinking (which I am) you will absolutely love this place (which I did).

But that's if you can get in. While enjoying my Alvarez, I got to chatting with "Big John," a mountain of a man stationed outside who was checking ID's. He was also only allowing in as many people as exited the Halle into the bright sunshine.  Those guests range from 21 year-olds to families with children to senior citizens. 

John said that he was stationed out here in 5ยบ weather back when the place opened, and there was a one-hour wait to get in. And while yesterday was certainly a pleasant day to wait outside, not all days will be like that. So figure that into your plans.

Oh, and one other thing. The Festhalle's wi-fi is not accessible to the public. As Tasha explained, "We want our guests to interact with each other, not with their cell phones." That's an idea I support 1,000 percent.

My first visit to The Festhalle will definitely not be my last.
Go, even if there's a line.
The PubScout

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